A coin, magnifying glass and book

Research strategy and governance

The Museum's research is underpinned by our strategy and follows the Museum's Code of Good Research Practice.

Research involves colleagues from across the Museum – often collaborating with others. At any one time, Museum staff are: 

  • Researching more than 12 exhibitions.
  • Leading or participating in more than 30 externally funded research projects and programmes.
  • Supporting more than 25 research students. 

Our research leads to more than 125 books and peer-reviewed articles and papers each year. Find out more about our publications.

This section introduces the Museum's research along with how we shape and manage our research. 

Research strategy

Research at the British Museum is to advance the future care, display and understanding of the collection and to help people learn, understand and be inspired by human history through objects.  

Our research is focused on four key areas:

  1. How the 'lives' of objects – from their making, use, reception, loss, collection and later use – can contribute to their understanding.
  2. How objects can reveal the social, cultural, religious, creative, economic and political history of their makers, users, owners, depositors and collectors.
  3. How objects and their histories can most effectively be presented, exhibited and explored through different media and forms of public and learning programmes. 
  4. How objects can be best cared for in order to ensure their preservation for future generations of researchers and the general public.

Overseeing research at the Museum

Research at the Museum is overseen by the Head of Research working closely with Heads of Departments, as well as the Research Managers and Research Publications Editor.

The Research Board acts as the Museum's research ethics committee and meets on a monthly basis to:

  • coordinate research
  • review the research programme
  • agree the Museum's research budget

The Trustees of the British Museum have a Trustees Research Committee to ensure the quality of our research and the success of our research strategy. The membership of this committee has both current Trustees and co-opted members from universities and other research organisations.

We are recognised by UK Research & Innovation as an Independent Research Organisation (IRO), and play an active role with other IROs to promote research across Museums, Galleries, Libraries, Archives and other Heritage Organisations.

Read the Museum's Code of Good Research Practice.